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Douglas Padget reports from his residency at the Kugel/Gips House

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“Being in a kayak on the pond or walking in the woods is a very different experience than looking at these places through the windows from inside the house. A similar combination of attachment and remove happens in landscape painting. You’re not really in the place the painting depicts yet you somehow can go there mentally.”

 



Douglas Padgett was an artist in residence at the Kugel/Gips house this spring. Here is
what he wrote about his experience.

 

I stayed in the Kugel/Gips house from May 9th through May 15th as part of the artist residency at the Cape Cod Modern House Trust.

 

A little about the house:

It’s a beautiful house perfectly situated in an idyllic setting. I came in late at night and didn’t realize how amazing the view was until I awoke the next morning. Sitting on a small hill overlooking two ponds the house has a very picturesque view through the main windows. It’s difficult to imagine the house had been abandoned for any length of time.

It is made from cement blocks and glass with wood trim and has wood siding on the decks. There is an asymmetry to the use of materials. The entrance side is mostly block with almost no windows, while the pond side is mostly windows and little block which guides the occupants gaze to certain parts of the surrounding landscape while editing others. The windows meet in the corners glass-to-glass like a fish aquarium, emphasizing the structure’s visual openness to the outside world and showing the architects desire to diminsh the divide between inside and outside.

The house is situated in the Cape Cod National Seashore and because I was there during the off season the surrounding woods are mostly free of the noise. Except for the birds. I was there by myself so the birds became the soundtrack of my stay. Every day I would see or hear a bird that was new to me. Coming from New York City I really enjoyed the stillness of the place. There are houses nearby but not until I went kayaking on the ponds did I see a few other structures.

It was even more quiet inside the house because of the cement block construction. The house is virtually free of the usual creaks and groans of the wood houses I’ve always lived in.

A little about my work there:

My work usually starts from an idea and then I make a painting or drawing from that idea. At the residency I wanted to make paintings and drawings without preconceived ideas. Look out at a landscape and then make an image of it. I wanted to take a specific place and find new meaning or associations to it simply by painting and drawing it.

Most of my career as a painter I’ve worked in a studio. The residency offered a welcome change of work habits brought on by working outdoors.

I produced small and quickly made paintings and drawings sometimes working in the house looking out the windows and sometimes working outdoors. Often I struggled with my gear—which was to heavy—and with natural elements. You work faster and with more determination to finish when you are outside and it’s getting colder and darker. I made paintings from a kayak floating in the middle of the pond. I set my easel up near a small road leading to the house and made paintings of the surrounding woods an entire day. When it rained I made drawings and paintings of the woods and ponds looking out

the windows. I worked almost constantly the entire week, with the exception of a few excellent tours of nearby modernist houses with Peter. I thought a lot about archetypes of natural beauty. How certain views or locations can become more universal than the specific site represented.

The large windows in the Kugel/Gips house turns several of the walls of the house into large landscape images that allows one to feel like they are living directly in the woods. Being in a kayak on the pond or walking in the woods is a very different experience than looking at these places through the windows from inside the house. A similar combination of attachment and remove happens in landscape painting. You’re not really in the place the painting depicts yet you somehow can go there mentally.

The drawings and paintings I made while staying there are somewhat like travel pictures because they recorded a place for personal reflection. They are also full of information about their maker—myself—and my desire for insight into not only the places depicted but the nature and need for such depictions.

Douglas Padgett

Brooklyn, New York

May 2010

 

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